How to Become a Firefighter in Chicago

The Chicago Fire Department (CFD) is one of the largest public service departments among the 1,108 Illinois fire units listed at the National Fire Department Registry.
The CFD’ Bureau of Operations comprises of the four following units:

  • Fire Suppression and Rescue
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Office of Fire Investigations
  • Special Operations

The CFD is always striving to keep the numbers of fire fatalities down. If you believe you have something to offer to this great organization, here is all the information you need to get started.

Career Opportunities for Firefighters in Chicago

  • Firefighter
  • Specialist Fire Equipment Personnel
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Fire Investigator (Employed by Insurance Agencies)
  • Fire Safety Expert

Eligibility Requirements for Chicago Fire Personnel

Following are the eligibility requirements:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Must have completed high school. This is the minimum educational requirement for becoming a firefighter in Chicago. If you don’t have a high school diploma (HSD), then the equivalent GED certificate is acceptable too
  • Must possess a valid Illinois driving license. If you don’t have one at the time of applying, then you will have to obtain one by the time of appointment
  • Must hold legal American nationality, be it on the basis of naturalization or birth
  • Must not be a convicted felon nor have any other kind of criminal record anywhere in the United States
  • Must be a resident of Chicago. This is not mandatory when applying. However, once appointed to the firefighting force, all employees are obligated to live within the Chicago city limits
  • Must clear the Chicago civil service test. This is a written assessment designed to evaluate candidates’ proficiency in reading comprehension, basic mathematics, vocabulary and grammar
  • Must obtain a good score on the Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT)
  • Must clear all background checks

How Long Is Needed to Join the Chicago Fire Department (CFD)?

The CFD’s firefighter training program is usually 6 to 7 months long. On top of that, the initial screening and applicant shortlisting process takes a few months. So, you will need about 8 to 12 months to become a part of the Chicago Fire Department, depending on the availability of the positions.

What Salary Is Paid to a Firefighter in Chicago?

According to the City of Chicago, a Firefighter/EMT has an annual salary starting from $50,490.

Chicago Firefighters Future Job Prospects

O*Net Online has predicted a 4% increase in firefighting jobs in Illinois for the decade from 2016 to 2026. You can expect opportunities with CFD to increase at a similar rate. Moreover, the national average for firefighter employment growth during this time is expected to be 7%.